Gumption by Nungesser


Billy Nungesser

As I write this, I wish I could be at the Oil Spill Open House in Plaquemines Parish, in Braithwaite, La., tonight because I'd like to know what's happening on the ground.

This ground is the stomping ground of Parish President Billy Nungesser, who came to lead after Katrina and Rita devastated the state. He's a bootstrap kind of guy, buying up Shop-Vacs to protect marshes in his territory from the oil contaminating the Gulf of Mexico. The Atlantic reports that the Plaquemines Parish Inland Waterway Strike Force has 49 workers -- many of them local boat captains who know the waterways better than anyone.

The parish Website is somewhat different from other government Websites. You can find political cartoons there, poking fun at the people in charge of one of the worst environmental disasters the United States has ever seen.

Nungesser has gotten incredible media coverage with his outspoken criticism of BP's efforts and the federal government's lack of leadership in dealing with the ocean and coastal cleanup. You can find him on CNN, Youtube, ABC News, The New York Times, Newsweek, NPR, Fox, and MSNBC. He minces no words, sharing with the media conversations he's had with federal authorities. He seems to know what transparency is all about but will his approach help him get what he wants? Along with Gov. Jindal, Nungesser lobbied for sand berms to protect the coastline. Eventually the Corps of Engineers allowed one to be built on Chandeleur and both politicos made a point of checking out the progress, but now it seems, the berm has washed away.

Maybe doing something fast won't necessarily provide a lasting result. By the way, Nungesser's seat is up for election in October.

Posted by L.K. Williams, EPonline on Jul 22, 2010